Tuesday, 5 June 2007


So June has come to stay for a couple of weeks and has been teaching at a school in the arts centre in Accra. The kids here are of all ages and have missed formal schooling - here they pass through beginners, intermediate and to advanced before hopefully returning to the formal primary school system. The kids are challenging but I think that June has enjoyed it - and true to form I think she has shaken things up at the school a little!!!!!

We went back to see the crocodiles. The kids loved it but looking back at the pictures I cannot imagine what possessed me to feel calm enough to stand right next to one of these mighty beasts with Nayah in my arms and no wall or fence between us. They say no one has ever been harmed - but still I wonder what possessed me!!!

We also went to the fort at Cape Coast - Kwame did not enter but I visited with June and Nayah on my back. It is as shocking as ever and so it should be 11 milllion people exported and still more dying on the way. Even now parts of west africa are notably depopulated and no wonder. This is the only loss of human life on this massive scale and yet we still do not call it a hallocaust and even in this bi-centenary year it does not get the attention it truly deserves. Slave trade does not catch the horror of the millions who did not make it. Yet more desturbing is the church above the slave dungeon and the school within the complex. The Ghanaian that ran them was the son of an African slave trader and his family honor him till this day. Looking out from the fort the lanscape is peppered with churches and schools. Why so disturbing?

At Junes substandard schoool education may help the kids sell fish better but (without a one in a million piece of luck no matter how clever they are) it will never fundametally change thier lives. They are trapped by global poverty and local class politics. There are vast numbers of highly educated young people with degrees, masters and doctorates who can be seen queuing for work - many have been queuing for years and clamour at the gates of embassies desperate to leave the country. And why not? - nearly all of the education is on foreigners terms - health students take exams on equipment they have never seen and primary schools have "speak English" writ large on the walls. Students learn of nursery rhymes and snow storms. They are told to work hard - that change will come - tragically for most it is a lie.

Within poverty much happiness is derived in the churches where people clamour to give everything they have to the pastor in hope of a better live. When I visited the kids at Junes school they sang hyms at morning assembly with a gusto and enthusiasum not seen in other areas of studying but much in evidence at break time fighting. I turned my face to the wall to hide my tears. The song they sang was "my joy is in heven there is no fight there, my joy is in heven, my joy is in heaven there is no pain there." These childen fallen to the bottom of the pile in a country desperatly trying to haul itself from the botton of the heap into 'middle income status' were looking forward to something. But the thing they were looking forward to was death.

One old sailor sitting outside Elmina Castle called "Elephant Man" had travelled the whole world on large boats. He left the slave fort at Elmina and on his travels saw the wooden strutures where slaves were sold in the Americas. He was invited to cellebrate a childs birthday in the house of one such black man and marvelled at thier cars. Now he has returned to Ghana to enjoy old age looking out to sea. He laughed at Kwames questions on his thoughts of the slave trade and said - park a boat here now and tell them they can go to America - you will see them come. Of course the world has changed but this is the most horendous crime ever committed against humanity and some people here consider them the lucky ones......

(this is hugely dark but it is a dark time of year).


Janet Waters said...

Lotte, I am humbled by Ghana but the sailor had the world to choose from and he went back why? what did Ghana give him?
I agree people don't talk about or re-examine the slave trade in the same way as "the Holocaust" is that because "white people" have to take more blame than "the Germans"? Sorry you must think I am talking drivel but I do admire you with the crocodiles it lets Nayah know there is nothing to be afraid of
Janet from the library at Totton

Anonymous said...

Oh Janet he did not have a visa to work elsewhere. However, why do we come and why do so many people stay? It is beautiful here - there is so much hope. As far as standard of living on world leauge tables then Ghana does better than most of the rest of Africa but no where close to the UK. But as far as quality of life Ghana knocks the UK's socks off!!!